#AgainstAllOdds! Rajesh Jais on his journey

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Life is all about creating stories, and embracing the journey which allows one to make them. More often than not, we come across people who’ve always made sure to stick to their plans, but when opportunities come their way, they often make sure to most of those chances. In this week’s Against All Odds series, ETimes reached out to Rajesh Jais, one of the finest actors of the Indian entertainment industry. He is all set to star alongside Nushrratt Bharuccha for an upcoming horror film ‘Chhori’. In an endearing conversation, the actor opened up about his struggles, being type cast in the industry, and the challenges he overcomes everyday to make a consistent name for himself.
How challenging is it get good roles, when the competition is so high ?
Like in any other profession, one needs to keep working on their craft in order to get a well defined role. We can’t be choosy in this industry. Frankly, when it comes to our profession we don’t really get to know if our character is impactful or good in the first place. It depends on the audience, how they perceive it. We cannot be judgemental before taking any job or while doing it. The benchmark and yardstick solely belong to the public and their response.

What obstacles did you have to face?

Even after spending more than 25 years as an actor, and working in various canvases, there have been times, where I have a moment of self doubt, when I am not being cast for a role, I believed I was truly capable of. I was often typecast in the industry, which didn’t let me explore a different genre in movies or a character.

There have also been instances, where me being recommended for a role, wouldn’t get the part, because the casting director creates a fake excuse on my behalf in my absence. We don’t get to know what goes behind our back. I wouldn’t get the part despite being recommended by the makers.

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In your career, what is the biggest challenge you came across, and how did you handle yourself mentally through it?

My professional career started with comedy. I had a good flair for it. But soon, I was typecast. I had to keep saying no to work, or take breaks in between, so that my image doesn’t get identified as a comedian on-screen. I’ve tried hard to break that image. Whenever I had to change my genre, I had to sit without work for 6-8 months or sometimes years.

I know my ability to perform as an actor be it different roles characters or situations. I know my depth and preparation the way I can deliver the best. But the makers might not be aware of my craft. I consider myself as a versatile actor who doesn’t really fit into one specific category. All I want to say is, I am a fully loaded actor, with the right arrows, capable of doing justice to every role. I’d like to request to the ones who cast actors that please trust the range of an actor, and not typecast them.

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How do you deal with setbacks and failures ?

As an actor, there are going to be certain things which are not in my control. I can only control about my being – my physical appearance, and my spiritual being. When I am given a job, the filmmakers want me at my best. Our over expectations are the biggest reason why we feel anxious and get depressed. It also pushes us towards our failure. When we tend to expect, we stop being in the moment, and start worrying about the future. This mostly happens when we give auditions and expect to be qualified for the role. It’s a part and parcel of life.

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How has the journey been from theatre to films ?

Rich and vivid. I’ve learnt a lot about my craft. Not just theatre. I think I can call myself a mixed bag. ‘ Maine kaafi papad bele hai’. I used to write, teach, perform, and have done all sorts of jobs. These experiences has allowed me to become a great actor.

I came to Mumbai in 1994. Since then acting has been my bread and butter. And I am so happy to convert my hobby to my profession. Earlier during my college days, all my preparations were towards joining the defence. It was an impromptu session, which allowed to realise that I can be a good actor. I got secured as an actor in a very short span of time.

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What is that one thing which really inspires you being a part of this industry ?
Honesty and hardship. As an actor I cannot ask for more. I am being paid as per my worth, and I am completely satisfied how things have shaped up for me. Everyday is a challenge to prove my worth. Hence, I’ve learnt to keep myself on toes. You get to meet a lot of people, you learn to shape and create perspectives. I’ve learnt to become more of a human. The amount of love I’ve received from the industry and as well as from the public is immense. I am privileged to be here. I don’t want to be known as a star, I just want to be known as an actor.

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What advice would you like to give to young actors ?

You have to prove everyday that you are the best. So keep practicing. If we don’t have abhyas, we won’t have the control over our expressions or the emotions in terms of acting. Learn to gain confidence with your craft. Things are going to be rough, but you’ll succeed no matter what. Be aware of your surroundings keenly. There are thousands of people coming to Bombay everyday to have this dream of being an actor.

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